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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Tycoon's telecom revolution plan
Sir Terry Matthews
Sir Terry Matthews is seeking fresh investment to back his idea
Wales' richest man has unveiled high-tech plans which he hopes will revolutionise the way we make our telephone calls.

Billionaire Sir Terry Matthews is chairman of Newport Networks, which has developed technology to enable calls to be made over the internet.

The Chepstow-based firm has 35 software engineers working on the project.

It is now to float on the London Stock Exchange's alternative investment market.

The technology, called Voice over Internet Protocol allows users to make voice telephone calls over the internet and "transport" the calls in much the same way e-mail technology is used.

The company was founded in 2000 and has been developing the technology ever since.

Newport Networks hopes VoIP will revolutionise the telecoms industry and that its success will be sealed by an expansion of broadband internet into homes and businesses.

Celtic Manor Resort
Sir Terry's Celtic Manor Resort will host the 2010 Ryder Cup

Industry watchers say the technology should enable telephone users make significant savings on the cost of their calls.

An American company already offers technology, allowing people to use plug-in phones on their PCs and pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited calls.

Around 35 software engineers in south Wales have developed a device aimed at telecom companies.

They have had to overcome problems such as internet security and issues of quality compared to ordinary telephone lines.

The company claims the hi-tech internet equivalent of the traditional telephone exchange, the 1460 Session Controller, can handle up to 100,000 simultaneous voice calls.

Central to the technology's commercial potential in the home or office is its ability to handle normal internet traffic and e-mails, as well as phone calls at the same time.

Roadblocks

"Three years ago, when the possibilities of making voice calls over the internet were being explored, we identified certain critical issues that would have to be overcome if VoIP were to become a commercial reality," said Sir Terry.

"We are now ready to launch a product that solves those key roadblocks and which we believe will set the industry standard."

This is the latest venture for Sir Terry, whose companies Newbridge Networks and Mitel were sold off to Alcatel and BT for $7.1 billion and 350 million respectively.

It will be the first time Sir Terry, who also owns the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport, the home of the 2010 Ryder Cup, has "gone public" by floating a company he chairs on the London Stock Exchange.

Newport Networks hopes to raise 15 million to back the venture.


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